The last days of Maradona
A program that recreated the moments leading up to the soccer star’s death was recognized at the Global Podcast Ondas Awards.
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“The news we never wanted to give,” “He’s leaving but he’s not leaving us. Diego is eternal,” “In the hands of God,” “What planet did you go to”.... We could dedicate a whole page to all the headlines of November 20th, 2020, that reported the death of Argentine Diego Armando Maradona, one of the most important soccer players of all time.
The main sport and its country, which lives soccer with a fervent passion, paused to mourn the heart attack that ended the life of the 10, who was 60 years old at the time.
Without abandoning the controversy that accompanied him since his career as a professional sportsman, Diego’s death paralyzed Argentina and took over television screens, radio programs, newspaper and magazine covers. Nothing else was being talked about.
The press, in its eagerness for scoops while a whole family and a nation were dressed in mourning, ventured into sketching answers to questions such as: was the operation for a subdural hematoma that the former player underwent shortly before his death necessary?; who was in charge of taking care of him that day?; what medications was he taking and who was supplying him?
In a scenario of doubts clouding the certainties, the responsible and impartial journalistic investigation gained strength and motivated, thanks to the initiative of Spotify, the production of a program in an innovative format with an unstoppable boom worldwide: the podcast. Thus, was born The Last Days of Maradona, with six episodes of 40 minutes each.
A STORY IN HIS OWN VOICE
In addition to the news in traditional media, in social networks and messaging platforms began to leak audios recorded by the same environment of Barrilete Cósmico: people of his entire confidence among which were nurses, doctors, surgeons and lawyers.
There were not two or three or four, but 4,300 voice messages, intimate and revealing about the day-to-day life with Pelusa, which reached the hands of the justice system, which was forced to open an investigation against eight people for “simple homicide with eventual malice.”.
This highly informative material was accessed by the small screen and a group of 70 people, who launched The last days of Maradona in Spanish, Portuguese, English and French in November 2021, after an exhaustive work of almost a year.
The hosts for each version were journalist Matias Martin, in Argentina; former French soccer player Thierry Henry, in France and the United Kingdom; former Argentine soccer player Jorge Valdano, in Spain and Latin America; journalist Juca Kfuori, in Brazil, and actor Salvatore Esposito, in Italy.
“We had the audios of the internal communication of everyone around them, what they were thinking, what they were talking about. We had the audios that were sent specifically at the time each of the things were happening, how it affected them, how it affected Maradona. It was something so direct and just thinking about available material, it was something unique,” said Mariano Pagella, producer of the Spanish version podcast, in conversation with AL DÍA from Buenos Aires.
In a country where being a ‘Maradonian’ is a religion, Pagella admitted not to be a soccer player, much less a connoisseur of the history of the 10. It was precisely this fresh and outsider vision that enriched the program’s story, according to Martina Castro, executive producer and CEO of Adonde Media.
“It was important that this series was not so insider so that people from the outside could enjoy and understand it. That Mariano was a bit of an outsider was important, to give it that outside look. Although we also had the challenge of hooking people who knew a lot and who were fans,” said Martina Castro from the United States, where she also coordinated all the production teams.
IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT EL PIBE DE ORO (‘THE GOLDEN BOY’)
Castro stressed that, for her, it was essential that the story was not macabre or sad. “We are talking about an extremely important person for the Argentine people, for many people around the world. We were going to talk about death, about difficult moments, but the series could not be all that. It had to be entertaining,” he said.
Pagella, for his part, confessed that the podcast allowed him to get to know from the inside the magic that the idol gave off and continues to give off in a population as vehement as the Argentinean one.
“This was not just the story of Diego’s death. It had to do also, in a way, with how we treat our heroes, how we raise a person. We put them so high, so high, that their fall is so abysmal and so strong. And by being so high, they end up isolated from the world. They are left in another universe, which is the angle from which we take this story,” he added.
In February of this year, the podcast The Last Days of Maradona won the Premios Ondas for Podcast in Best Production category. The jury valued “the first simultaneous launch of a podcast adapted to six regions” and having “aligned a list of professionals from half the world in a project with a sum of adaptations to address the story of the most influential soccer player in the history of the most popular sport.”
The awards, organized by PRISA Audio and Cadena SER, in collaboration with Spotify, will be presented on May 24th in the Spanish city of Malaga.